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Wednesday, 3 March 2004
Page: 25845


Mr SIDEBOTTOM (9:47 AM) —My local newspaper, the Advocate, recently said of Jim Bacon:

Jim Bacon will leave his role as Premier with the State's economy in its best shape for decades, perhaps ever.

Yet Jim Bacon's reply to this was that he was happy from the bottom of his heart, but what made him happiest was:

... to see the Tasmanian people now optimistic, happy, really confident about the future compared with what we inherited when we came to office in 1998, which I've often described as being virtually a clinical state of depression of the whole community in Tasmania.

Jim Bacon personified this optimism. He shared this with Honey, his loving wife, and his Labor colleagues in government. Tasmania has been very lucky to have Jim Bacon head its government since 1998. He would be the first to acknowledge that he led a professional team, one of whom has sadly announced his retirement on the grounds of ill health—and I speak of the highly respected Dr David Crean, the former Treasurer of Tasmania. Jim has deserved the spontaneous, genuine and universal accolades paid to him since news of his serious illness became public. He is greatly respected as a man of substance and a genuine leader. Everyone hopes and prays that Jim's great determination and sense of optimism will see him through these tough times.

Sometimes known as `Good News Jim', Jim Bacon, a devout convert to Tasmania in 1980, was one of the key architects of what he accurately called `the new Tasmania', and nobody can deny the substance he gave to this reality. Personally, I cannot remember a more optimistic time in the beautiful isle for decades: the lowest unemployment in 20-plus years, record investment levels, a real estate boom, unrivalled air and sea access for tourists and travellers across Bass Strait, record tourism, massive energy infrastructure investment, a vibrant arts community and a progressive social justice program, just to name a few things.

As political analyst and associate professor at the University of Tasmania, Richard Herr, said in his tribute to Jim Bacon:

Although we sometimes take the mickey out of him for being the `Good News Premier', by and large the Government has managed to get the State out of the doldrums ... It has improved and people feel that it has improved.

I know that Richard joins with me and every Tasmanian in hoping for a role reversal for Jim—that he can become the Good News Premier in terms of his health and that the optimism and improved life opportunities so many Tasmanians have felt under Jim's premiership can be reciprocated in spades for this popular, substantive and courageous man. Jim, good luck to you and Honey, and every Tasmanian offers you both their best wishes and sincere thoughts.